Sled dogs could be the oldest dog breed alive today

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An Ebola vaccine was given to more than 300,000 people during the outbreak in northeastern DRC.Credit: Baz Ratner/Reuters

An outbreak of the Ebola virus in northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has officially ended. The virus had been raging in the region since 2018. It infected at least 3,470 people and killed 66% of them. The outbreak occurred in an area of ​​the DRC plagued by 25 years of war and political instability – but it was the first Ebola outbreak in which a vaccine against the virus has been widely deployed. More than 80% of the more than 300,000 people vaccinated did not contract the disease, and those who developed Ebola after vaccination had milder cases. The good news is tempered by the spread of a new Ebola epidemic in the northwest of the country.

Nature | 4 minute read

Greenland sled dogs might be the oldest dog breed alive today. The researchers sequenced an ancient sled dog, 10 modern sled dogs and a 33,000-year-old Siberian wolf. They found that modern sled dogs, which include huskies and malamutes, separated from other types of dogs at least 9,500 years ago. They also compared sled dogs with other dog breeds to identify adaptations to the cold, physical exertion and fatty foods of arctic life.

National Geography | 7 minute read

Reference: Science paper

Notable Citable

Pediatric infectious disease specialist Debby Bogaert is dealing with long-term symptoms of an initially mild COVID-19 infection. She urges authorities to do more to support, study and test ‘long haulers’ like her. (The Guardian | 6 min read)

Features & Reviews

Project management tools are more than just to-do lists – when used well, they can make teams more efficient and minimize frustrations, such as forgotten tasks and duplicate work. Nature examines how major research groups use software such as Trello, Jira, Asana, and GitHub project boards.

Nature | 7 minute read

A task force has recommended that the International Astronomical Union rename two craters on the far side of the Moon that had been dedicated to devout Nazis Philipp Lenard and Johannes Stark. The two Nobel laureates were “largely responsible for the absurd idea that there was an ‘Aryan physics,'” writes science writer Philip Ball, whose book on German physics under the Nazis was used to inform the decision. The dedications were apparently made without knowledge of physicists’ anti-Semitism, which was aimed at Jewish scientists and Albert Einstein in particular. “Far from troubling me to associate myself with the erasure of history”, writes Ball, the episode shows that “public monuments are more often a consequence of, rather than a protection against, historical amnesia”.

prospect | 7 minute read

News and Views

Micius, China’s pioneering quantum technology satellite, has broken new ground by sharing an encryption key that’s unbreakable and eavesdropping over 1,000 kilometers. The spacecraft accomplished the feat of cryptography by simultaneously transmitting entangled photons to two separate ground stations – a technology called quantum key distribution (QKD). To be useful, future quantum satellites will have to fly higher and distribute encryption keys at a much faster rate than Micius. But his recent feat is “the most advanced QKD demonstration to date,” writes quantum computing researcher Eleni Diamanti.

Nature News and Views | 6 minute read

Read more: China’s quantum satellite clears major hurdle in ultra-secure communications path (Nature, from 2017)

Reference: Nature paper

Pairs of entangled photons are produced on board the Micius satellite. The photons of each pair are then sent to 2 optical ground stations 1,120 kilometers apart. This process allows parties from both stations to share a string of bits called a key, which they can use to encrypt and decrypt secret messages with absolute security.

quote of the day

Evolutionary biologist Scott Edwards is using the academic break to achieve a lifelong dream of cycling across the United States – while raising awareness for the Black Lives Matter movement. (Audubon | 6 minute read)

Bette C. Alvarado